A Florida woman is calling for smokers to clean up their act after she spotted a seabird feeding its young a cigarette butt.
Karen Mason of Largo was snapping photographs in St. Pete Beach last Thursday when she noticed a black skimmer pick up the discarded butt and offer it to its chick.
“If you smoke, please don’t leave your butts behind,” Mason wrote in a Facebook post Monday evening capturing what would have otherwise been a cute moment.
On Wednesday, she followed up her original post with an even more alarming image of the diminutive bird trying to wrap its beak around the loose piece of litter.
“This skimmer chick was offered a cigarette butt by its parent,” Mason said. “It’s time we cleaned up our beaches and stopped treating them like one giant ashtray.”
Unfortunately, the problem Mason caught on camera isn’t unique to St. Pete Beach.
In fact, local groups are teaming up to install dozens of cigarette collection canisters in Atlantic and Neptune beaches. In one day alone, volunteers picked up an estimated 13,000 butts.
The problem isn’t limited to the United States, either. According to the Ocean Conservancy nonprofit group, cigarette butts are easily the leading source of trash littering our coastlines.
“I don’t care who smokes as long as they don’t leave their butts everywhere,” Mason said.